Malaysia’s Karex Bhd (KARE.KL) makes one in every five condoms globally. It has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories in the past 10 days due to a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus.
That’s already a shortfall of 100 million condoms, normally marketed internationally by brands such as Durex, supplied to state healthcare systems such as Britain’s NHS or distributed by aid programs such as the UN Population Fund.
“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” Karex Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat told Reuters this week.
“My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months.”
Malaysia is Southeast Asia’s worst affected country, with 2,161 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths. The lockdown is due to remain in place at least until April 14.
The other major condom-producing countries are China, where the coronavirus originated and led to widespread factory shutdowns, and India and Thailand, which are seeing infections spiking only now.
Makers of other critical items like medical gloves have also faced hiccups in their operations in Malaysia.